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St Michael's Church, Hoole.

St Michael & All Angels, Hoole, Lancashire
St Michael's Webzine
JANUARY 2008

From the Rector
So another year bites the dust. As I look back over 2007 I can recall both some high points and some low points. I guess the lowest was the sudden loss of Barrie Gleave whereas, and in sharp contrast, a very definite high point was the re-ordering of the chancel and dedication of the work carried out in memory of Wilfrid Spalding (incidentally the connection with the Spalding family will continue next spring when I conduct the wedding service of one of Wilfrid and Jean’s grandchildren). Overall I think we can reasonably claim that 2007 has been a year of consolidation. It would be nice to report dramatic growth but this, in truth, has not been the case, but it is good to report that the church is in a much healthier state than it was a few years ago. On what basis can I make that claim? Firstly on a numerical basis: the numbers attending church are considerably higher than when I arrived. Secondly, the levels of giving have increased significantly in that time. Thirdly we now have a thriving youth club and are also involved more heavily with other youth-related activities, as well as working closer than ever with the two schools of the parish. Fourthly when I arrived we gave next to nothing away to charity and/or missionary work. Last year, in one way or another, we contributed over £3,000 to such projects. Finally, and as I wrote last month, ecumenical relationships are, I would be so bold to say, better than they have ever been. So all in all we have a picture of a church that is in pretty good health.

However, the health of a church, like the health of a person, can deteriorate very quickly unless we are careful. To avoid such a decline we need the full and effective support of the parish as a whole (after all St. Michael’s is the parish church – available for everyone and not just the sole preserve of a few religious ‘nutters’ who happen to go there on Sundays) if the church is fully to be able to build a base for the future. Sadly we don’t know what the future holds. As far as I understand it I am still going to be made redundant in a little less than three years, and from that moment on it is possible that Hoole will cease to have its own parish rector (not even a half-time one such as myself). For sure someone will have oversight of St. Michael’s, and it is even possible that Hesketh Bank may join with us in some way, but everything is still very unclear. One thing for sure though is the fact that the stronger the life of the church the more difficult it becomes for the Diocese to do away with a local clergyman (or woman). So this is why I appeal to everyone to support the church – use it or lose it – as we move into 2008.

The topic of money is never far from the surface and we have just learned of our Diocesan quota for next year. The increase is not as bad as I had feared, which is good news, but the reality is that we need to raise at least £700 each week – and this is before we pay any expenses for the church such as heat, light and maintenance. That is a lot of money for a small parish and so yet again I would urge you, even if you only attend church on an occasional basis, to try and give a little money regularly to support the very existence of a church in the parish. I think it would be tragic if due to lack of funds, the church initially was to lose its own minister and who knows, eventually, had to close down for lack of support. What would that say about the village? We do about thirty baptisms and a dozen weddings each year plus, of course, a regular supply of funerals. If there is no clergy person, who will do them? Will they be able to be done at all? These are questions we must consider seriously whilst we still have the possibility of influencing future thinking. I cannot give any guarantees, but Hoole will fare much better in arguments with the Diocese if they are made from a position of numerical strength and financial stability. For sure it won’t be any good people complaining in three years’ time that there ain’t no vicar if they haven’t been prepared to do something about it themselves in the meantime.

Next month I shall give a breakdown of all the facts and figures pertaining to the ministry at St. Michael’s in 2007. Meanwhile let us move forward in confidence and in faith into 2008 and let us ensure that this year is a year of growth in every sense of the word for our very special and precious church. I shall sign off by wishing you all God’s blessings for the year ahead.
Steve

Ladies’ Group
Many thanks to all those who supported our Christmas Coffee Evening with Bob and Barbara Worswick, who entertained us with carols and songs. Through your generosity we have been able to send £350 to Derian House Children’s Hospice.

This month, on Tuesday 15th January at 7.30pm, our AGM & Social Evening takes place. It’s never the dull event that some AGMs are, particularly as it’s followed by some entertainment – this year in the form of “a Lancashire evening”. Please, as usual, bring along a small wrapped gift. Subs are to remain at £5.00. If you have an evening free and would like to come along, you’d be made most welcome.

Christian Aid News – Christmas Appeal for Trees
Many of you have supported this appeal for trees and saplings either through buying a tree to stick on the desert or through the Christmas envelopes. The trees which are bought are of many varieties and have many uses. Some are fruit trees which provide essential vitamins for communities; others are trees used to stabilise and enrich eroded soil so that crops can again be grown in deforested areas.

Simiton from Malawi and Miriam from Senegal are two of many people who have expressed their appreciation for saplings already received through Christian Aid. Simiton uses leaves from his trees as compost for his soil and now grows twice as much food as before. His family now have much better nutrition and he is also able to sell some crops to his neighbours. In addition, by selling this produce Simiton is raising enough money for his daughter to train as a nurse. Miriam can take the fruit from her trees to market to provide an income for her family and also finds the shade which the trees provide enables her to grow a variety of other crops. (For families like those of Simiton amd Miriam, the income which the trees provide are often the only way in which medical care and education – and hence hope for the future – become accessible.)

Wheelchair Walk in Wales
Thank you to all of you who supported us. We are very grateful to the members of Longton and New Longton Methodist Churches who have shown such an interest in this event.

We very much enjoyed the walk (ride!) – a scenic track, along the North Wales coast, almost entirely in bright, sunny October weather. Many of you will also be interested to hear that we saw Brenda Leigh and Gwynneth three times during our week in the Colwyn Bay area, enjoying light refreshments at Brenda’s sea-view apartment on our walk past, worshipping with them at their lively church in Llandudno on the Sunday morning and being entertained to lunch by Brenda in Penrhyn Bay before our return home.

The total for our walk is now over £4,500 - and we know that there is still a little more to come. We have very much appreciated the way in which people have supported these medical (and medical-related) projects and continue to express our own gratitude for the medical help which Cliff has received over the past twenty months.

Later in January we shall distribute the money between Christian Aid and the other small charities, including FOMO in Malawi and Ngora Hospital and the medical dispensary and Rainbow House of Hope in Uganda.

Rainbow of Hope Concert
The South Ribble Concert Band has kindly arranged to give another concert for us: “A Rainbow of Hope for the Children of Africa”. This will be held on Thursday 7th February at 7.30pm in St Andrew’s Church Hall, Longton and will be followed by a supper. Tickets will soon be available from the Churches’ Christian Aid representatives. Proceeds will be divided between FOMO, the Rainbow House of Hope in Uganda and the Soroptimists’ education work in Africa.
Cath Greenlees (613500)

www.hoolevillage.com
You may have noticed that our web site address has changed. The original web site was set up mainly to cover the events concerning the Transit of Venus in 2004; it served the purpose well and we thank William Johnson for his work in setting it up at that time.

However we now have a completely new web site which we hope will give a wider interest covering all aspects of village and local issues. Whilst the church figures prominently – the church guide produced at the time of the Transit by Barrie Gleave is on there, and has been enhanced with some very good new photographs, and is well worth looking at – it is not just a church website, it is intended to provide information regarding all local organisations.

We are grateful to Bill Carr, our churchwarden emeritus, for his hours of work in getting this site set up in conjunction with Mark O’Hanlon of Hesketh Bank, who is the driving force behind the excellent Tarleton and Hesketh Bank village website. Should you have any information regarding other local organisations or are able to supply any information of local interest please initially contact Bill on 615321.

CHURCH CALENDAR

Sunday Jan 6th Epiphany
9am Holy Communion (BCP) Rector
10.45am Holy Communion (CW) Rector & S Pickles
3pm Evensong (Said) Rector

Sunday 13th January Epiphany 2 (Baptism of Christ)
9am Holy Communion (BCP) Rector
10.45am United Service at Walmer Bridge Methodist Church
3pm Evensong (Said) Rector

Sunday 20th January Epiphany 3 (Septuagesima)
9am Holy Communion (BCP) Rector
10.45am Holy Communion (CW) Rector & S Pickles
3pm Evensong (Said) S Pickles

Sunday 27th January Epiphany 4 (Sexagesima)
9am Holy Communion (BCP) Rector
10.45am Family Worship Rector & S Pickles
With Bradbury Special Needs Scout Group
3pm Evensong (Said) Rector

Sunday 3rd February Sunday next before Lent (Quinquagesima)
9am Holy Communion (BCP) Rector
10.45am Holy Communion (CW) Rector & S Pickles
3pm Evensong (Said) S Pickles

Wednesday 6th February Ash Wednesday
7.00pm Holy Communion (CW) Rector & S Pickles

Sunday 10th Lent 1
9am Holy Communion (BCP) Rector
10.45am Morning Praise Rector & S Pickles
3pm Evensong (Said) Rector

It hardly seems possible when, a fortnight before Christmas whilst preparing this the January edition of the magazine, that we are giving notice of the services for Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent: yes, Easter is going to be very early this year (Easter Day – Sunday March 23rd). However during the season of Lent we shall be holding our services of Holy Communion with a short talk on Tuesday evenings at 7.00pm as usual, and we hope to see you there.